Flushing Remonstrance 

U.S. #1099 was issued on the 300th anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance.

On December 27, 1657, a group of 30 people in Vlishing, New Netherland, signed the Flushing Remonstrance, a plea for religious freedom.

Vlissengen or Vlishing (present-day Flushing in Queens, New York) was settled in the Dutch colony of New Netherland in 1645. The colony’s governor, Willem Kieft, granted the English settlers there the same religious freedoms as Holland, which was one of the most religiously tolerant European countries.

However, major changes soon set in, in large part due to the situation in the Netherlands at the time. Back in the Netherlands, they were revolting against Spanish rule and an inquisition, striving toward establishing a national identity, and working to unite the Calvinist and Catholic provinces. So in 1656, governor Peter Stuyvesant issued an ordinance outlawing the practice of all religions outside of the Dutch Reformed Church in the colony. Those caught practicing other religions or holding now-illegal meetings would be arrested.

U.S. #971 commemorates the founding of the first volunteer fire department in America by Peter Stuyvesant.

Vlissingen (present-day Flushing), Rustdorp (present-day Jamaica, Queens), and ‘s-Gravesend (present-day Gravesend, Brooklyn) were all home to Quaker missions and the people there were upset by the new law. However, there were also those that supported the law and informed on people practicing other religions.

In response to the law and unfair treatment, a group of 30 English citizens met and composed the Flushing Remonstrance on December 27, 1657. While they were not Quakers themselves, they were upset by how the Quakers had been persecuted.

U.S. #1099 FDC – Religious Freedom First Day Cover picturing Peter Stuyvesant.

Their statement concluded: “Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.”

When Stuyvesant received their petition, he removed the members of the local government and replaced them with new Dutch leaders. Four of the document’s signers were arrested. While two of them recanted, the other two stood firm and were jailed for over a month.

U.S. #1099 FDC pictures the signers and the Bowne House.

Over time, a man was exiled for performing Christian baptisms, while another was arrested for preaching Quakerism, and another still was banished for holding Quaker meetings. In response to these and similar acts, Stuyvesant sent magistrates and soldiers to educate those that didn’t follow the law. And in some cases, soldiers entered and remained in people’s homes until they agreed to comply.

In support of the remonstrance, John Bowne invited Quakers to meet at his home, but when Stuyvesant learned of this, he had him arrested and banished to Holland. An Englishman, Bowne didn’t speak Dutch and struggled to survive there. He eventually met with the owners of the Dutch West India Company, who ultimately told Stuyvesant in 1663 to end his religious persecution.

U.S. #1312 was issued for the 175th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.

The Flushing Remonstrance is often seen as the true initiation of religious freedom in America and a precursor to the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of Freedom of Religion.

Click here to read the Flushing Remonstrance.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. A good historical reminder of where we were, where we have come to and where we could return to if the liberal society and the lame stream media has its way.

    1. A little difficult to get your message here, Noah, but I have a feeling that you’re taking issue with the very moral Quaker position on religious freedom.

    2. It seems that no matter what the subject, someone manages to take a political tack and force their agenda on the rest of us instead of just simply appreciating the lesson provided.as well as the story. Noah, being liberal is NOT associated with treason!!

    3. I couldn’t agree more. I’m so glad we were able to see through the vale of political correctness and vote our Christian conscience in this last election.

  2. Interstesting first comment…I’m not aware of liberal minded people stifling religious thought or freedoms…regardless, I found this article instructive on a topic which wasn’t given much space in my school textbooks when I was younger.

  3. There is no threat to religious freedom in America except from the Christian coalition.
    Everyone is free to exercise his religion (within limits – and we all know what those are)
    and no one is accosted for going to church or persecuted from his beliefs, except by
    the Christian Coalition. There is even freedom FROM religion (yes, zealots, there is)
    guaranteed by the Constitution. Read it, your mind might actually be opened.
    Thanks for a wonderful historical article – and i am Dutch Reformed, which I considered
    one of the gentlest of religions. Very low form and open to all.

  4. We no longer have freedom of religion which was not what the founding fathers had in mind, I’m sure. But thanks to political correctness and ACLU and the atheist cohorts we now have freedom FROM religion.

  5. Freedom and Liberty is what our founders focused on, and what we should focus on. If you don’t like the movie don’t watch it.

  6. Thank you so much. It is very interesting to hear about these tidbits of history that I knew nothing about. They are always well written an easy to understand.

  7. I had not thought to initiate such a firestorm with the first comment, because I, too – like David Manning – see it poor practice to take political exception to the very informative and useful background behind these stamps, of which most of us are so fond. There is, however, another matter – of fact or perspective – that needs to be addressed. The last sentence in the story of the stamp suggests that “the Flushing Remonstrance is often seen as the true initiation of religious freedom in America”, which might surely deserve our applause. But, some further consideration should be given by the author to the significance of Roger William’s flight in 1636 from the increasingly restrictive Massachusetts Bay Colony policy on the practice of religion to found a government in what became Rhode Island encouraging greater religious freedom (ref: Barry, John M:. Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul).

  8. This is a solid article I found quite informative. I learned a lot in school but nothing on the Flushing Remonstrance. God bless the burgers of Vlissengen and their standards of behavior.

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